A follow-up to the grand success of Demy’s first musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort unfurls an unabashedly romantic bouquet of song and dance upon a flowing field of pastel. Catherine Deneuve and her sister Françoise Dorléac star as musical twins searching for love and success just as a fair comes to town and a medley of strangers convenes in the charming port town. With a tip of his chapeau to the golden era of the Hollywood musical—including the very American presence of Gene Kelly and West Side Story’s George Chakiris—Demy allows the search for true love to guide each story thread and that ideal sweetness and thrill to giddily overwhelm the screen. Criticized upon its release for its outrageously saccharine themes, the bubbly film has risen to prominence in recent years perhaps precisely for its meticulously designed, infectious spectacle of what it feels like to be madly happy and in love.
The Young Girls Turn 25 (Les Demoiselles dn eu 25 ans)Directed by Agnès Varda.
France, 1993, 35mm, color, 65 min.
French with English subtitles.
The middle of Varda’s three successive films about Demy—between Jacquot de Nantes and The World of Jacques Demy—this homage has as its background the celebration of The Young Girls of Rochefort hosted by the city of the film’s setting in 1992 to mark the 25th anniversary of its release. The celebratory mood is shaded by remembrances not only of the departed Demy but also of Françoise Dorléac, killed in a car accident months after the film’s release in 1967.